A Day in the Life: Payroll Errors and Bank Frustration

by mzumtaylor on September 9, 2010

in A Day in The Life

When we moved across the country, we had an extra $400 in the bank, $1,500 in savings for move, $800 in our Emergency Fund, and $980 in savings for taxes because I had been working for myself, but knew I was still going to have to pay taxes come April 15th, 2011, and I wasn’t sure how to think about doing it quarterly like self-employed people are supposed to do.

I spent the $980 of tax savings on repairing the car that my father-in-law as going to drive for us across the country.

I spent the $800 in Emergency Fund money to help ease the transition.

The $1,500 went to the process of moving, of course, except the $740 that was supposed to go to the moving company actually came off the credit card I reserved it on just in case, so we had a little more in the bank for the first few months that we were here and only had Ben’s paychecks coming in every month.

But slowly, over the two months before I got a job, and the three weeks after I started my job that it took to get my first paycheck, the money in our account dwindled. Now, we have to be very careful what we spend and when, living paycheck to paycheck, and always getting distressingly close to $0 in our account before the next influx of cash comes in. We’ve been in this place before, as many people have, but it was before we were married (almost two years ago now), and I had forgotten how stressful it can be.

I know things are going to turn around though: I’m just about to get my second paycheck, which means I’ve been at my new job for five weeks, and we’re making enough over our out-going bills that we’ll be able to start rebuilding our savings and the buffers I have built into our accounts so I don’t have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck.


When you’re down, it often seems that the universe is out to keep you down. This last week, when Ben’s paycheck was supposed to magically appear in our account via Direct Deposit, nothing happened. Normally it’s there before I wake up in the morning, and because we’ve been running close to the wire every two weeks, I wanted to make sure it was there before I paid some of our bills. Like, say, rent.


Noon rolls around and still no direct deposit, so I call Ben at work, and he starts the process of figuring out what happened. Apparently there’s another person with his name who just started work at his company in Massachusetts, and he got Ben’s money. It was an error on the part of the payroll company, which was fixed rather quickly. Except they couldn’t just re-direct deposit the money into our account. No, that would have been too easy. They had to overnight a check to his store.

Saturday morning, Ben was going to go pick up his check, and we were going to open a bank account at a local bank in order to pay our rent on Tuesday. It wasn’t ideal, but it would work.

The overnighted check arrived on Saturday, but not until 3 pm. Any normal bank closes at noon. A few close at 2 pm. No bank that I know of is open until three.


So, our options were A) to send it through the mail to our normal bank (Charles Schwab, which I still love), but no mail would go out until Tuesday, which means we wouldn’t have the money in our account until Thursday or Friday the following week, or B) wait until Tuesday and open a bank account at the local bank, as planned.

To sum up: So, our rent, which is, on Friday, three days overdue and has only two penalty-free days left to pay it, cannot be paid until at least Tuesday the next week, but probably Wednesday, because most banks hold funds until the next business day. Because we couldn’t wait until Charles Schwab got our money, we decided to open a local bank account. The only problem with that plan is that the bank required us to put $100 in savings (a good idea, in general, but not useful in this case.

Fortunately, we were able to provide proof to our landlord of the cockery that’s been going on, so they waived the fee this time, but still. I had really thought we were beyond this.

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